Have your cake and eat lunch too Made from scratch

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Location: Clarencedale Cake and Cafe

Address: 80 E. State St., Sharon, Pa.

Phone: 724-342-3221

Hours:Closed Mondays. Lunch served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. Bakery open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Online: clarencedale-cake.com

Boardman Location:6534 South Ave., Boardman, OH 44512


Clarencedale Cake and Cafe is quaint and small, a quiet presence on East State Street in Sharon. You may not be familiar with Clarencedale, but once you’ve discovered this little culinary gem, you’re sure to become a regular visitor.

“We have a lot of loyal customers,” said Nancy Tusinac, who owns the cafe along with her daughter, Mary James, and her son-in-law, Andrew James. “People appreciate our ever-changing menu and our made-from-scratch cooking.”

“Made-from-scratch” — those are the operative words at Clarencedale. The homemade soups, sandwiches, cakes, cupcakes and cookies are lovingly crafted from the finest, freshest ingredients, which is evident from the very first bite.

I started my meal with a wonderful bowl of summer corn chowder ($3.95). The creamy, buttery broth was rife with fresh corn, potato chunks, bacon, carrots and celery. It was a light yet satisfying introduction to my meal.

Other Clarencedale soups include roast mushroom, chicken and rice and Slovak Girl Soup, which features sauerkraut with kielbasa in a beef broth over a homemade pirogi and pays homage to Tusinac’s heritage.

After sampling the corn chowder, I next tried the Hawaiian Salad, which boasts a surprising mix of tangy-sweet grilled pineapple, toasted coconut, cashews, ham and romaine with a splash of lime vinaigrette dressing.

What a perfect blending of tastes and textures! The ham and cashews are hearty and filling, while the pineapple, romaine and vinaigrette are light and refreshing.

Clarencedale is known for its delicious sandwiches and paninis, and I was happy to try the white chicken chili grilled cheese sandwich ($4.75) and the curried sweet potato panini ($4.75). Both are inventive and yummy.

The shredded chicken is combined with white chili sauce, corn, great northern beans, cheddar cheese, cilantro and green hot sauce and served between two grilled slices of homemade bread. The result is a mildly spicy, south-of-the-border treat.

The sweet potato sandwich features slow-roasted curried sweet potatoes, caramelized onions and a lime cilantro yogurt dipping sauce and is a truly unique and pleasing spin on a traditional favorite.

Mary James said Clarencedale aims to offer patrons lunch options that cost less than $5. The cafe serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. The bakery is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

The baked goods are, of course, what Clarencedale is best known for. The homemade cupcakes, cakes and cookies are decadent treasures.

I ordered the “Better Than Sex” cupcake, which consists of a chocolate-chocolate chip base filled with dulce de leche caramel and topped with a Swiss icing sprinkled with pieces of toffee. Chocolate lovers will likely agree that this delight lives up to its sassy name.

Other popular cupcake flavors are Mexican fried ice cream, white raspberry, yellow birthday bash, cherry almond, margarita (a lemon-lime cupcake) and twisted sister (a chocolate, peanut butter caramel cupcake). Cupcakes cost $2.50 each or $27 per dozen ($25 per dozen if two or more dozens are purchased).

The cafe’s lunch menu changes weekly as well as seasonally, as do the varieties of baked goods. Patrons who follow Clarencedale’s Facebook page will find a weekly menu posted every Tuesday.

Mary said some of the restaurant’s recipes have been adapted from the Slovak favorites prepared by her mother and grandmother.

“They taught me how to cook from scratch and instilled a love for cooking in me,” she said.

Clarencedale offers carryout, delivers within a 10-mile radius and will cater small events.

Many of the items at Clarencedale are gluten free.

“We developed many gluten-free recipes after learning that our daughter couldn’t have gluten,” Mary said. “If you can’t have gluten, just ask us what we have on the menu that’s gluten free. We can make almost all of our baked goods gluten free.”

Patrons also can ask for a custom-made cake. Andrew James is a talented artist who designs amazing cakes for weddings, birthday parties and other special occasions.

“If people want something particular, they can bring in a sketch or talk to us about their special idea,” Mary said.

Wedding cakes start at about $3.50 per serving.

A six-inch cake for a party or other special event starts at about $25 and serves six to eight people.

Clarencedale Cake and Cafe in Sharon has been open for about four years and started serving lunch about a year ago.

“We want to spread the word that we’re serving lunch and that we are more than just a bakery,” Mary said.

Clarencedale Cake also has a Boardman location, which is strictly a bakery.